A statement released by Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director, Kentucky Youth Advocates
The wrong-headed proposal by Representative Kevin Bratcher and advanced by the Kentucky House unfortunately received passage by the Senate Health and Welfare Committee today. The rhetoric around House Bill 318 is that it will address “rising rates of violent juvenile offenders.” Yet, that rationale is based on politics and not reality. It not only sends hollow, fear-mongering echoes to constituents, but also jeopardizes the progress made in juvenile justice reforms over the last decade.
As HB 318 heads to the Senate floor, we urge Senate leadership to halt this measure from advancing any further and to instead focus on solutions to prevent youth violence. As it was shared by the honorable Judges today, getting to the root of a child’s truancy or other misbehaviors will result in the best outcomes for children and communities – which is best handled by Family Accountability, Intervention, and Response (FAIR) teams and Court Designated Workers.
Kentucky Youth Advocates is unyielding in the commitment both to public safety and to ensuring every child has the opportunity to thrive. With a focus on what works in getting kids back on track and prioritizing prevention, we can create a win-win for community safety and our young people. We call upon thoughtful lawmakers in both Chambers to work with key stakeholders on meaningful, research-based efforts to prevent youth violence. And the first step towards that commitment is to reject HB 318 for its blatant political pandering rather than solution seeking.